Amid ongoing protests and violence in Ferguson, Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard into the area after lifting a curfew in a bid to restore “peace and order.” But even advocates of using the National Guard like retired Gen. Russel Honoré, who commanded military forces during Hurricane Katrina, say an overly aggressive police response has contributed to the escalation of violence in the area.
The National Guard, whose troops arrived Monday in the suburb of St. Louis, was created to serve under both state and federal authority. (Disclosure: The author is an officer in the New York Army National Guard.) Acting under federal orders, soldiers are prohibited from policing U.S. citizens, but that’s not the case in Ferguson, where the Guard is acting under state orders and can operate in a law enforcement capacity.
For the moment, the Guard’s role seems designed to limit interaction between law enforcement and civilians in Ferguson.